One way of looking at the world is that we spend a lot of our time building stuff. I sit in meetings with computer engineers and developers who are spending their days building one part of the Internet. It’s really a new version of an old task. Some people are building families, some are researching, some are creating.
We work and live in many buildings that were built by people long ago, and we’re all living atop a giant construction project of knowledge, learning, truths, art, and literature that was built for us by the people who came before.
I have special fondness for people who spend their entire day building, who not only work during the day, but also spend their free time trying to build something lasting for the world.
What are you building?
Photo by Robert Thompson via Creative Commons
Ted Cross says
Well, it's hard but I am trying to help build better relations between the US and other countries. That and some publishable novels.
Richard Gibson says
I'm trying to build awareness of history and historic architecture in Butte, Montana (as a tour guide), understanding of the Chinese experience in America (at the Mai Wah museum), and understanding of America's dependency on imported everything for our daily lives (in my book).
Other than the worlds I build in my imagination, I'm self-confidence and a sense of myself. And I'm trying to build a world of less poisons at my #dayjob by testing for them and cleaning them up.
Harriet Smart says
I've noticed that all the people I like best in the world are people who are builders, as you describe it. They are making something out of nothing, be it writing or painting or starting businesses or gardening. My husband writes software and we've found that our creative paths run alongside eachother very nicely (I'm a novelist) And it isn't that these people are successful or not that makes them so attractive to me – it is the fact that they are trying. That's the important thing – the spark inside that makes them so vivid as people.
Building up speed…
Ted Fox says
To paraphrase Seinfeld (man, I do that way too much), I'm building a repository of shallow, fairly obvious observations.
Relatively inconsequential in and of themselves, perhaps, but if they make someone laugh, mission accomplished.
Samantha G says
I'm building an alternate universe. And the world's best cake, one layer of chocolate sponge at a time…
Me, as a brand.
Chris Phillips says
I like Robyn's answer. I second.
I write software in the morning and create fantasy worlds in the evening and on weekends, when I'm not preoccupied with my newborn child.
This building thing is a lot of effort. But it's worth it.
At work, I build parts of web pages for telcos/ISPs. Outside of work, I'm building software for convention event planning, baked goods, and fiction. ^_^
Susan Kaye Quinn says
What a lovely way of looking at the world!
Tsana Dolichva says
Like many others here, the writer part of me is building worlds. The day job part of me is building up our knowledge of astrophysics.
Such a wonderful thing to think about, and damnit if it doesn't cut right to the bone. What am I building? God, I hope something great!
I'm trying (trying) to build communities, awareness, connection, understanding, relationships, and possibilities for adolescents. I'm trying to build a life that has meaning and brings me contentedness. I'm trying to build a life of color, whimsy, magic, kindness, science, wonder, art, fellowship, and humor for my daughter.
All my life trying, but at least I am trying.
The idea of building and construction something is amazing. Especially when alot of us spend our time not building but in a state of busyness.
What are you building, Nathan?
Nathan Bransford says
I'm helping to build online communities at CNET and here on the blog, and novels on the weekends.
Karen L. Simpson says
I'm trying to build better relations between different cultures and races through my novels and my work as historic preservationist.
Lindsey Lane says
I'm building a teen into an adult who can launch herself in the world. She's building a mother into an adult who can let go.
What a great post, Nathan! As a librarian, I like to think that I am building community, knowledge, and possibly even wisdom. As a writer, I hope I am conveying a world and characters that seem true and lovable. As a human being, I, like all of us, am helping to build my own soul through my actions and interactions. I like to think that I can have a positive impact in all these roles. What can I say? I'm an optimist, I guess! But there isn't one person on this planet who isn't building something in the sense you mean.
Neat post! Will retweet – though you hardly need a push from me!
Christina Katz says
Nice, Nathan. 🙂
I'm building a happy family, a writing career (have been for 12 years), and a 120K-word book.
I devote a lot of time and passion to my work and make sure that others benefit.
Sierra McConnell says
Right now? I'm trying to build myself a way out of a very bad situation. CALL ME BACK PROFESSIONAL LEASING AGENT.
Bryce Daniels says
As naive as it may sound, I am trying to build a better world for our children. How? I am working on a grassroots movement, starting in the faith communities, to get a moment of silence observed in the schools each morning. I call it "A Pause for Peace."
I understand why people would object to public prayer, but what's wrong with our kids reflecting on what it is to be human, what it means to care about each other, what it takes to think before pulling out the weapons?
Good seeds make better trees.
Okay, I could really get going here, so I better get off my stump now.
I'm building the world of my next writing project. The only time I get to seriously work on it is of course after my day job. 🙂
wry wryter says
It’s odd really but when I think about what I’m building I realize I’ve almost completed my project and I only have a moment left to finish.
I have built a future and it is now.
None of us are guaranteed to see our projects done, whether they are buildings, books, or brands. It is the planning and the process of the project which makes life sweet.
To meet our own end without regret and be proud of the structures we have completed is the goal.
Ms. Trite says:
Monuments of accomplishment eventually crumble.
Contrary to what ‘they’ say I’m taking ‘it’ with me.
What is ‘it’? She ain’t telling.
My writing is important to me, but if my family needs me, writing must wait. I am definitely a family builder, but what I think is most remarkable about your post is that you see a family builder as a thing of value. So few do.
Sasha Barin says
I'm building what I hope to become a way for myself and others to be more generous with each other.
I'm trying to build a bridge between cultures.
Is the pic from Turkey??
Timothy Nies says
I am building a world for the gods, you know, to return the favor 🙂
A stone BBQ. Seriously.
I started collecting the stones on my property two years ago and this summer I'm going for it.
As for writing, I'm just trying to meet deadlines and keep people happy.
Other Lisa says
I'd really like to post something eloquent here, because it's a great question, but I'm too damn tired.
So, novels that say something about how the world works, in my experience. And maybe how the world might work better. But that are fun to read.
Alexis Grant says
I love this question, because it's a round-about way of asking people about their dreams. I'm building a community around my blog/book and credibility as a journalist. But most importantly, I'm building a lifestyle, putting a whole bunch of pieces together to create the life I want to live.
P.S. Love the book trailer!
Tana Adams says
What a beautiful sentence this is, "We work and live in many buildings that were built by people long ago, and we're all living atop a giant construction project of knowledge, learning, truths, art, and literature that was built for us by the people who came before."
You are truly an artist who sees the world through a unique lens.
I'm building entire universes in each of my four children, worlds in my novels, and great connections right here on the web.
Matthew MacNish says
I'm trying to build a story that will hopefully someday grow into a legendarium, even if it's only in my own mind.
I've already built a family that is the most wonderful thing in my life (when my kids are behaving).
My company is building … well hopefully profits that will result in raises and bonuses for all, without taking too much advantage of the world or our customers, but I can't talk about my job online.
I try to build confidence and life-long learners in my students. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not. But even if I don't complete the creation of a life-long lover of learning, I at least lay down the foundation or build a little more on the foundation that is there.
I build whole universes in my fantasy and science fiction novels.
I build a virtual storage place of my random bookish thoughts in my blog.
I try to build relationships and hope with everyone I meet.
D.G. Hudson says
Besides building worlds for my novels? Isn't it the writers/authors of today that will build the legacy for tomorrow's writers? Their work may not all be literary, but could instead be well-loved books in any genre or any level. In my own way, I hope to help build that by writing my stories.
In addition, I have a blog, 21st Century Women:
https://dghudson.blogspot.com/ in which I try to post on issues which women face in daily life: e.g., coping with children who are ill, moving, our changing times, and even dealing with the death of a family pet. I also plan to post on some issues with elder care, etc. It's still evolving.
Building awareness is something a writer can do better than others. With the gift of using words effectively, public opinion can be influenced in a good or bad way.
Interesting question, Nathan, will you tell us what you're building?
D.G. Hudson says
Sorry Nathan, I see you answered the 'what are you building' question already!
J. T. Shea says
Excellent metaphor, Nathan. We can all be builders. Or demolition men. My father was a builder, and I have often compared my process in planning and writing novels to his in planning and building houses. I've helped him and others build houses, walls, roads, sewers and boats.
Thanks for the great pic of the scaffolding under the Hagia Sophia's famous dome, the largest in the world for over a thousand years. Indeed we stand upon the shoulders of giants!
Richard, my maternal grandmother was born in Butte and emigrated to Ireland on the Lusitania, contrary to the general trend of the time. The Butte Courthouse looks fantastic on your website.
Anonymous 8:55 am, the Hagia Sophia is indeed in Turkey. It was built 1,500 years ago as a church dedicated to Holy Wisdom, personified as St. Sophia, in Constantinople, then capital of the Eastern Empire. A thousand years later the Turkish Ottoman Empire captured the city, renamed it Istanbul, and turned the church into a mosque, thereby ensuring its preservation, somewhat ironically.
BEHEMOTH, the second book in Scott Westerfeld's excellent YA Steampunk Trilogy, is set largely in Istanbul, and should both entertain and educate teenagers of all ages!
I guess I'm trying to build some understanding of everyone and everything around me. People and situations are so very mysterious and complex so much of the time, aren't they? Talking to people, or talking with the world through stories… it's all about trying to understand… everything:)
I'm building alternate worlds for people to get lost in, live in, and learn in. It looks a lot like the world we live in, but not nearly as mundane and as unexciting.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately in the terms of Consumer vs. Creator. I've been trying to consume less food, electricity, gasoline, vodka (just kidding, I still drink like a Siberian). And I've been creating more by self-pubbing my novel, starting a blog, tweeting, etc. When everything nets out, I hope to have the Creator side of the scale weighs a little more.
Chuck H. says
I've been building a memory for my kids, grandkids and great-grands to carry into the future. I've been passing on the traditions of my ancestors and telling the stories of their exploits while creating a few of my own. I guess you could say I've been ensuring my immortality.
Oh, and a large beer gut without the aid of beer.
P. Kirby says
A dining room. We're contracting out the slab, but the rest will be all our labor.
For the sake of family harmony as we are tired of jamming everyone into our tiny kitchen for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
And no, we're not new to DIY. We've already built a barn, two sheds and artist's workshop on the property.
Nancy Kelley says
As a library worker, I try to build an awareness of knowledge and information. It's not enough to take patrons to the books they want; I want them to understand how to find them, and what other resources they might consider.
Right now? A fully-completed version of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That's ALL the skulltulas, baby!
That is, when I'm not writing or doing the day job. 😛
Matthew Lang says
No seriously. A scarf.
Grey cable knit if you must know.
Michael Offutt says
Nathan, why do you work at CNET since you have a huge publishing contract?
Ella Schwartz says
I'm building a legacy: something to leave behind. My legacy consists of many things, but here are some of the most important:
1. My children – they are the reason I work so hard. I am investing everything I have into them, and I hope they will do amazing things,
2. My novel – this is something I hope can be read for generations,
3. A safer world – my day job in Internet Security strives to make the Internet a safer place.
For some reason, I'm feeling alittle shy today – this is a question that is very close to my heart. But I'm hoping to do something that helps people in some way – there's so much pain and suffering in the world, and so much of it could be healed. I'd like to contribute and help with that.
On a different note, I have watched your book trailer several times, Nathan, it's just so fun. I keep coming back to it and watching it again. If you ever give up this social networking gig, you could undoubtedly have a highly successful career as book trailer designer. In case you're interested.